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Wednesday, 23 March 1994
Page: 2059

Senator REYNOLDS —I address my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. What is the Australian government's response to claims made on the ABC's Lateline program last night when an Indonesian academic, Dr George Aditjondro, detailed human rights abuses in East Timor and alleged that 271 people died in the Dili massacre, while another 200 went missing?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am well aware of the claims made by the Indonesian academic, Dr Aditjondro, concerning human rights abuses in East Timor. I am aware of the list referred to by him containing names of those claimed to have died in the Dili killings. This list, which appears to be sourced by an ecumenical association based in Portugal, is one of a number of such lists which have been in circulation for some time.

  I have repeatedly made clear to the Indonesian government our concern about discrepancies in the various accounts of those missing—the various lists and their provenance in each case. I have urged the Indonesian government on a number of occasions, and do so again now, to make further efforts to clarify the situation once and for all and to account fully for those missing. In that context, we very much welcome this year's consensus statement on East Timor at the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, which called on Indonesia to continue its investigations concerning those still missing.

  Might I say more generally that we continue to raise with the Indonesian government our concerns about the ongoing human rights situation in East Timor and about the welfare of East Timorese. I have long made known to the Indonesian government, in a number of different ways to a number of different interlocutors, our strong views about the need for a comprehensive process of reconciliation in that province—one which would involve a major reduction in the military presence, recognition of East Timor's distinctive cultural identity, possibly some form of greater autonomy and certainly some sensitive economic development.